What is the Foreign Investment Review Board

What is the Foreign Investment Review Board and What do They Do?

The Australian Government is very open to the idea of foreign investment; this has helped build the economy in the country and enhances the wellbeing of people as it supports economic growth & prosperity. Before an overseas investor commits to buying property (residential or commercial), in Australia they have to seek approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

An Advisory Role

The FIRB’s functioning is advisory only and the responsibility for actually making decisions on the existing Policy & proposals lies with the Treasurer. The Foreign Investment & Trade Policy Division of the Treasury provides its secretariat services to the FIRB; it is responsible for the day-to-day administration of all the arrangements. The board’s role, (including via its secretariat) is to:

  • Examine all the proposed investments in the country, that are subject to the foreign investment policy and the Foreign Acquisitions & Takeovers Act 1975 as well as the supporting legislation. They make recommendations to the Australian Treasurer & the other portfolio ministers of the Treasury, on these proposals
  • Provide the Treasurer advice about operation of the Policy & the Act
  • Foster understanding & awareness in Australia as well as abroad, about the Policy & the Act
  • Provide foreign investors and their agents or representatives guidance on the rules and regulations
  • Monitor and ensure that investors are complying with the set rules

FIRB Approval Summary

The role of the FIRB is to carefully examine all the foreign investment applications against certain “national interest” criteria. The Foreign Investment Review Board assesses applications from foreign investors who are seeking to buy a home or invest in Australian property. The application has to be made via the government website:

Australian Citizen

If you’re an Australian Expat living in another country:

  • You don’t require FIRB approval
  • You can buy any new property/existing property/vacant land
  • You can either live there/ the property can be an investment

Permanent Resident

If you’re a foreign national with a permanent residency visa:

  • You don’t require FIRB approval
  • You can buy any new property/existing property/vacant land
  • You can either live there/ the property can be an investment

New Zealand Citizen

If you’re a New Zealand citizen:

  • You don’t require FIRB approval
  • You can buy any new property/existing property/vacant land
  • You can either live there/ the property can be an investment

Temporary resident purchasing with Australian citizen spouse

If you’re on a temporary visa like a spouse visa/457 work visa/student visa & are acquiring the property with your de facto partner or Australian citizen spouse:

  • You don’t require FIRB approval if you are acquiring the property as- “joint tenants”
  • You require FIRB approval if you are purchasing the property together – “tenants in common”
  • You can buy any new property/existing property/vacant land
  • You can either live there/ the property can be an investment

The Australian Government approves a large percentage of the Foreign Investment Review Board approval applications. You are required to apply via the Government website– www.firb.gov.au. As long as you meet all the guidelines that have been listed there, there is hardly any reason that could result in your application being declined.

Approval Time Frames

Under the Foreign Acquisitions & Takeover Act 1975, the Government Treasurer has 30 days to consider an overseas investor’s application and then make a decision. There isn’t any time limit for applications that have been made only under the Policy. But the Government aims to also consider these particular proposals within 30 days, wherever possible. The Australian government monitors all foreign investment in order to make sure that this investment will benefit the country.

In most instances, overseas investors are restricted to buying “new” properties. This ensures that their investment adds to the residential properties that already exist in Australia. This helps in preventing speculation, which does not benefit the country’s economy and which can also result in an increase in housing prices. Even as Australia welcomes foreign investment in real estate, all prospective buyers are required to follow the set FIRB guidelines.

Thanks for reading,
David Miniter
0414 998 727

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *